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China-Africa cooperation to upgrade in new era

By Xu Wenhong | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2021-11-28 08:56
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Aerial photo shows the Mazeras Bridge of the Mombasa-Nairobi standard gauge railway in Kenya, May 12, 2017. [Photo/Xinhua]

The world entered a new stage at the start of the 21st century. Driven by incremental investment and technological progress, the global economy has started slowing down, and globalization, dominated by the Western liberal democratic models, is also facing obstacles. The greed of capitalism, represented by Wall Street, has eventually brought upon the United States and European economies repeated financial crises that have also affected the world.

Nowadays, the crises are gradually dying out, but the impacts are far from gone: the global economy has entered a period of low growth or even stagnation; US unilateralism is becoming more and more obvious with trade protectionism gradually on the rise; the refugee problem is spreading frequently; and inflation is continuously spreading.

The outbreak of the novel coronavirus has shaken up the global economy and this will have a long-term impact on development in various countries. The world is witnessing unprecedented changes not seen in hundreds of years. Global economic development needs new engines, and cooperation between countries needs new models, and global and regional integrations require new platforms.

In this backdrop, Africa, a lesser developed continent, has ushered in unprecedented opportunities. Its rich natural resources, its 54 votes in the United Nations as political resources that cannot be ignored and the great potentials demonstrated by African countries have attracted the major countries, such as United States, Europe, Japan, France, Russia and India, to Africa one after the other.

Next year, the US, Russia, Japan and other countries are going to hold their summit with Africa separately. But of all the cooperations between Africa and other countries, China-Africa cooperation is unique and eye-catching.

In 1960s China was very poor and backward, but it helped the African brothers build the Tanzania Zambia Railway. Sixty-nine Chinese experts, including technicians and workers, lost their lives in the construction of this Railway, which has made significant contributions to the socio-economic development of Tanzania and Zambia. This railway connects China with Africa as an immortal monument to history.

In the 21st century, the Mombasa-Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway has upgraded the status of China-African friendship in the new era, creating more than 70,000 jobs in Kenya and training more than 2,000 talents for the region. It has become like Kenya's passport to the 21st century, highlighting the core of China-African friendship, longing for peace, development, and the pursuit of a better life.

Under the framework of BRI, China is using mechanisms such as the China International Import Expo to provide products from Africa and even other parts of the world access to the world's second-largest consumer market. At the same time, as the world's largest producer, China is providing African countries with inexpensive and high-quality products, strengthening economic complementarity, and jointly expanding the world economy's cake, thus providing the world more material wealth, all of which are exchanged on the basis of equality and not for plundering Africa’s resources or creating a "debt trap".

Unlike more than 100 years of humiliation it was subjected to by major Western powers, the China-Africa cooperation respects the sovereignty of African countries.

As cooperation deepens, China and Africa believe no country should be instructed from outside on issues such as democracy, human rights, and development models. By floating theories such as "debt trap made by China" the Western media has underestimated the ability of African people to build their own motherland. It has also misinterpreted the China-African friendship and deliberately blurred the essential difference between China's self-reliance development model and the West's predatory growth model.

The economic cooperation with Africa advocated by China is not an exclusive one. Countries from around the world are welcome to trade with Africa. China is pleased to see that following the Chinese model, all major countries have deepened cooperation with Africa, whether for the purpose of competition or cooperation.

Of course, they came in much later. Only in 2022, Washington will hold the second US African Leaders summit in the US; Japan will hold the eighth TICAD Conference; and Russia will hold the second summit with Africa. India, ROK and Turkey are also strengthening cooperation with African countries. China hopes that these and African countries can carry out extensive practical cooperation and effectively fulfill their commitments to African countries.

Such frequent events demonstrate that the cooperation model initiated by China in 2000 has been valued and is being imitated by the world's major powers. China hopes that all countries will jointly make their own contributions to the development of Africa's economy.

If all countries start paying attention to Africa's development, the continent will have more opportunities. This will be consistent with the original intention of building a community with a shared future for mankind, as advocated by China. In this context, as an advocate of promoting development in Africa, China will provide more resources and opportunities for Africa's development. And that is the significance of the Eighth China-Africa Cooperation Forum being held at this time.

The author is deputy secretary general of the One Belt One Road Center at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

The views don't necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

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